A new animated film narrated by the star of the BBC drama In The Flesh highlights the issue of the bullying of disabled children and young people.
Luke Newberry, who also appeared in the 2012 film Anna Karenina and BBC’s Sherlock, has lent his voice to the video which is based on research co-authored by Dr Stella Chatzitheochari from the University of Warwick.
Dr Chatzitheochari’s research, Doubly Disadvantaged? Bullying Experiences Among Disabled Children and Young People in England’, found that 20% of seven-year-olds with a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SSEN) were bullied continually compared with 8% of peers with no known disabilities.
Dr Chatzitheochari, who is Assistant Professor of Sociology said: “These children have the ‘double disadvantage’ of disability and of bullying during critical life periods.
“We decided to make the video to highlight this alarming problem and to raise awareness among the general public.
“We are delighted that Luke has helped us get the message across. He played the lead in the BBC3 supernatural thriller In The Flesh and developed an army fans and we hope his popularity will help spread the message.”
The study involved the analysis of data from two national cohort studies and the follow-on film is funded by the Warwick ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.
The animated film also aims to raise awareness of the issue among teachers, charities, and policymakers. The video is to be distributed to professionals who work with children with disabilities and is available via YouTube. The production is collaboration with the Anti-Bullying Alliance, which will share the film with disability and anti-bullying charities, policymakers, and education professionals.
The Anti-Bullying Alliance are the organisers of Anti-Bullying Week which will take place this year on 14-18 November.
The study which inspired the video is the only existing piece of research that focuses on bullying experiences of children and young people with disabilities, using large-scale nationally-representative data.
Dr Chatzitheochari said: “The research found that even when other factors that are associated with bullying – such as cognitive ability, obesity, and socio-economic background – were taken into account, children and young people with disabilities and Special Educational Needs were still at a higher risk of being bullied.
“The bullying could take the form of physical abuse, such as hitting or shoving, as well as ‘relational’ bullying, such as name-calling or being excluded from peer groups.
“We know that being bullied contributes to social inequalities later in life – people who were victims in childhood often grow up to have low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, and perform less well in the labour market than their peers. It is therefore important to address this alarming problem”
The study concluded that school bullying may be a potential factor leading to poor educational and well-being outcomes among those who have experienced childhood disability